The Arthur Chung Convention Centre was recommissioned yesterday afternoon after undergoing more than a year and a half of rehabilitative work.
Held in the Centre’s main entrance hall, the reopening ceremony was attended by President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Cui Jianchun, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes, Minister of Public Infra-structure David Patterson and Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix.
The brief ceremony was followed by the signing of a document of completion between the Ambassador and Minister Hughes, which preceded the unveiling of a Portrait of the late President Arthur Chung. A tour of the refurbished facilities followed.
“This is a symbolic occasion and this building is a monument to the deep friendship between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China…,” President Granger remarked. The President noted that the time of the recommissioning of the Centre is symbolic because it marks the 100th year of the birth of the late President.
Granger also noted that China has been committed to contributing to development locally, which he stated is evident not only from what he described as the “magnificent” structure that is the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, but also in its contributions to a range of industries, including culture, public education, public health, public infrastructure and public security.
The President stated that as well as being a tribute to the “enduring friendship “between the Guyanese and Chinese republics, the ceremony was a tribute an “eminent citizen, a patriot and a public servant.”
“The Arthur Chung Conference Centre, now and for generations to come, will ensure that the contributions of Arthur Chung, a Guyanese of Chinese origin and the People’s Republic of China be remembered and sustained. I thank the People’s Republic of China for funding the renovation of this magnificent structure. It will remain a monument with unbreakable bonds of history and a symbol of the friendship between our two republics,” the President stated.
Ambassador Jianchun, in his remarks, thanked the President for showing confidence in local Chinese community, for encouraging social cohesion, and for his commitment to maintaining the relationship between the two countries, which have had relations since 1972.
The Ambassador also noted that honouring President Chung with the building was a show of respect for his family and for the country’s history.
He further expressed hopes that the building will be maintained and properly operated, while offering his commitment that should anything go wrong, China will try to resolve it.
Minister Hughes said that included among the rehabilitative works were painting of the interior and exterior flooring; replacement of walls and the reinstallation of ceilings (a section of the ceiling was reportedly replaced with reinforced glass); replacement of the windows, canopies and doors; the addition of new bathroom appliances and outdoor water supplies and pumps; and the replacement of power supply and distribution equipment, lights, cables, air conditioning units, radio communication systems and fire alarm systems.
According to Hughes, the upgraded Centre now includes a completely refurbished main conference hall, equipped with a new digital conference system and interpretation booths that can accommodate up to three different languages spoken simultaneously; video tracking capabilities; a superior public address system; a video matrix switcher; LED screens and overhead projectors; video conferencing equipment and new Wi-Fi equipment that turns the centre into an internet hotspot.
The main conference hall, which is one of three main meeting rooms, reportedly seats 500 persons, after being fitted with 372 new theatre chairs.
The eastern conference room, on the other hand, can accommodate up to 220 persons, while the western conference hall can seat 120 persons. Hughes stated that with the exception of the main conference hall, each conference room scan be divided into five small ones, which can each accommodate up to 60 persons.
In addition to that, the centre now has a computer lab with 20 internet-ready computers, which the minister said will be able to facilitate computer literacy training, serve as an internet café and act as a media centre for conferences.
There is also a conference secretariat, a business centre, first aid clinic, dining hall and kitchen.
The rehabilitation of the centre was carried out by the China Railway Group, with funding from the People’s Republic of Guyana. Minister Hughes thanked the group for working diligently to complete the project within the 18-month designated timeframe.
She related that the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, for which she has responsibility, formed the project monitoring committee to keep track of the works and make recommendations to the contractor.
Making up that committee were reportedly representatives from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Public Infra-structure, Business and Public Telecommunications.